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COLLEGE ROUNDUP : UCI Women Tip New Mexico State

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

UC Irvine women’s basketball Coach Colleen Matsuhara considered Sunday’s Big West Conference home game against New Mexico State extremely important.

If UCI contained forward Anita Maxwell and beat the Roadrunners, it would put the Anteaters in a tie for first place in conference, and improve on their best start since 1986.

“I feel the conference is going to come down to who can steal a few games on the road,” Matsuhara said. “It’s extremely big for us to do well at home.”

The underdog Anteaters couldn’t stop Maxwell, who scored 40 points, but responded with a second-half rally to beat New Mexico State, 72-70, at the Bren Center.

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Irvine, which led only twice in the second half, went ahead for good with 1 minute 16 seconds remaining when senior forward Jinelle Williams appeared to tip in a missed free throw. Junior center Allah-mi Basheer was credited with the basket, which put the Anteaters ahead, 71-70.

Williams made one of two free throws with 12 seconds left to ensure the victory, and also held Maxwell to one basket from the field in the last seven minutes.

“I was real pleased with Jinelle,” Matsuhara said. “She struggled in the first half because she picked up two quick fouls. I was also pleased with the play of Leticia Oseguera and Sabrina Roberson.”

Oseguera scored seven points, all in the first half, and guarded Maxwell for part of the game.

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The Anteaters (5-4, 2-0) trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, cutting the deficit to 40-32 at halftime.

Basheer, who had a team-high 21 points, keyed the comeback with two straight baskets to tie the score, 63-63, with 7:00 left to play.

Williams, who finished with nine points and six rebounds, gave Irvine its first lead of the second half, 69-68.

Maxwell, eighth in the conference in scoring (24.8) and rebounding (12.8), dominated the first half with 18 points, hitting on six of nine shots from the field. She single-handedly kept the Roadrunners (7-4, 2-1) ahead through most of the second half, hitting eight of 11 shots and grabbing five rebounds.

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“This was a big win for our program,” Matsuhara said. “We kept our composure down the stretch and didn’t back down.”

In other Big West Conference games:

Nevada Las Vegas 81, Cal State Fullerton 77--Koko Lahanas scored a career-high 40 points and had 10 rebounds for host Cal State Fullerton (3-6, 0-2).

Lahanas, a senior forward, made 18 of 27 shots from the field and added 10 rebounds.

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Gwynn Hobbs had 22 points for Nevada Las Vegas (2-8, 1-2), which stopped its eight-game losing streak.

The Rebels also got help from three players with local ties.

Angie White, a sophomore from Capistrano Valley High, had 12 points. Tracy Titus, a senior for Loara High, had 10 points and eight rebounds and LeAnn Kazmer, a junior forward from Orange Coast College, also scored 10 points.

Long Beach State 86, Hawaii 59--Senior Melissa Gower scored 31 points and added 13 rebounds for host Long Beach State (4-6, 2-1). Gower, a senior forward, made 12 of 21 shots from the field and seven of 10 free throws. She also had 13 rebounds.

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Long Beach used its full-court press to cause 14 first-half turnover and open a 51-31 lead. Hawaii had 30 turnovers.

Akia Hardy had 12 points and Sarah Davis, a freshman guard from Tustin High, had 12 points.

Kendis Leeburg scored 16 points for Hawaii (4-6, 2-1).


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